Video Authors: Elizabeth White, Yakov Fain, Liz McMillan, Dan Ristic, Jnan Dash

Blog Feed Post

Smartphones, SMAC, Political Chaos and Hope

Capturing the physical world and
digitizing it.
Wael Ghonim, a former manager for Google in Egypt, and others used Facebook and Twitter to organize demonstrations throughout Cairo that ultimately forced a regime change.

While Twitter, Facebook and YouTube received most of the publicity for their roles in disseminating information during the Arab Spring, it was the smartphone connected to the Internet and SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) solutions that made it all possible. Smartphones enabled information to be collected, packaged and transmitted for mass distribution in near real-time.

Matt J. Duffy, a teacher of journalism and new media at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirate writes, "During the January 25 protests in Egypt, for instance, protesters would carry their smartphones with them into the streets.  They could offer first-hand reports using their smartphones connected to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Often their information was verified with short video clips or photographs taken from their phones and effortlessly weaved into Facebook or Twitter updates."  Rick Sanchez, a former CNN correspondent, added his views that, "The smartphone is and was “The best piece of news equipment ever invented.”

Mobile technologies connected to the Internet have demonstrated their ability to influence and organize change, and to help people become free from autocrats, but has it actually made things better?  Change, as we know, does not always equal better.

Author Thomas L. Friedman wrote a series of articles in the New York Times this month titled Order vs. Disorder .  In this week's article he quoted his teacher and author Dov Seidman, “Protecting and enabling freedoms,” says Seidman, “requires the kind of laws, rules, norms, mutual trust and institutions that can only be built upon shared values and by people who believe they are on a journey of progress and prosperity together.”

Many people, at no fault of their own, are born in lands with limited opportunities and freedoms.  The components identified above, that are necessary for long-term freedoms simply don't exist.  What chance have these people to realize their dreams of freedom? Where is hope to be found?  In many regions leadership change is frequent, but the results seem to remain the same.  So the ability to influence change does not equal making things better.

It is necessary when thinking about complex and important issues to first define terms.  Friedman writes there are different ways of defining freedom.  He explains that over the past few years many peoples in search of freedoms have overthrown or replaced autocrats, systems and governments, and in doing so have become "free-from" them, but often they failed to achieve the notion of "free-to."  They have failed to become "free-to" vote in a democratic government, have a reasonable level of personal security, practice their religion in a safe environment, express themselves in art, express one's opinions in public without fear, establish the rule of law, gain an education for both sexes, create a trusted and stable economic system where one can engage in commerce and wealth generation, etc.  The concept of "free-to" rather than "free-from" is powerful.  How can mobile technologies promote and support an environment that is "free-to?"

Friedman goes on to write, "Values-based legal systems and institutions are just what so many societies have failed to build after overthrowing their autocrats." That’s why the world today can be divided into three kinds of spaces:
  1. Countries with “sustainable order,” or order based on shared values, stable institutions and consensual politics
  2. Countries with "imposed order," or order based on an iron-fisted, top-down leadership, or propped-up by oil money, or combinations of both, but no real shared values or institutions
  3. Regions of "disorder," where there is neither an iron fist from above nor shared values from below to hold states together.
Can mobile technologies not just support and influence "free-from" efforts, but also "free-to" efforts?" I believe the answer is yes.
  • I think of mobile payments supported by stable, trusted multinational organizations that adhere to internationally accepted norms and laws.  Multinational organizations beyond the control of regional "imposed order" or "disorder."  They provide trusted mobile apps and mobile payment systems with cross-border and multi-currency support.  They provide transparency and accountability.  They enable direct payments to mobile phone accounts that are beyond the reach of corrupt hands.
  • I think of mobile commerce.  The ability to buy and sell via online markets beyond the control of local thugs  
  • I think of online education available to anyone with Internet connectivity and a smartphone.
  • I think of the ability to share ideas, organize and to collaborate using mobile phones.
  • I think of idea exchanges and connections that enhance innovations
  • I think of micro-loans that enable start-ups and small businesses to grow 
  • I think of data collection and news reporting in near real-time via mobile devices
Can shared values, stable institutions and consensual politics, the building blocks of a "free-to" environment, also be developed and supported via mobile devices connected to the Internet?  If peoples suffering under "imposed order" or "disorder" cannot realize the "free-to" environment within their country's borders, can they find it beyond in a mobile and digital world?

In considering current immigration debates, it is apparent the country you are born into means a lot. At birth you are either a winner or loser of life's lottery based on which side of a border you find yourself. On one side there is an abundance of "free-tos" and opportunities, while on the other there is not. Is it possible that we can change this model? Can mobile technologies and the Internet help create a more flexible boundary - perhaps even a mobile boundary beyond the control of local despots.  A boundary that can be reshaped and expanded as a result of mobile and digital technologies?  Can the digital world with mobile boundaries provide many of the "free-tos" that man-made borders on a map often deny today?  Can there be a digital universe in parallel to the physical where "free-tos" exist in abundance and are but a smartphone connection to the Internet away?

In the long-term, will the digital world be able to influence and shape the physical world to make it a better place?  I think the answer lies in how we move forward into the digital future.  Will we be able to move beyond our digital minutia, selfies and cat videos into nobler pursuits?  For the good of all, will we create shared values, stable and trusted institutions and consensual politics in the digital realm where we have failed in the physical?  Can we become a digital community of people who not only believe they are on a journey of progress and prosperity together, beyond the reach of despots, or will the tribalism and violence of the physical world invade and corrupt the digital as well?

Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
View my profile on LinkedIn
Learn about mobile strategies at MobileEnterpriseStrategies.com
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
Join the Linkedin Group Strategic Enterprise Mobility
Join the Google+ Community Mobile Enterprise Strategies
Recommended Strategy Book Code Halos
Recommended iPad App Code Halos for iPads

***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict serves as the Senior Vice President, Solutions Strategy, at Regalix, a Silicon Valley based company, focused on bringing the best strategies, digital technologies, processes and people together to deliver improved customer experiences, journeys and success through the combination of intelligent solutions, analytics, automation and services. He is a popular writer, speaker and futurist, and in the past 8 years he has taught workshops for large enterprises and government agencies in 18 different countries. He has over 32 years of experience working with strategic enterprise IT solutions and business processes, and he is also a veteran executive working with both solution and services companies. He has written dozens of technology and strategy reports, over a thousand articles, interviewed hundreds of technology experts, and produced videos on the future of digital technologies and their impact on industries.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Druva is the global leader in Cloud Data Protection and Management, delivering the industry's first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications and leverages the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to enable data protection, governance and intelligence-dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it. Druva's...
BMC has unmatched experience in IT management, supporting 92 of the Forbes Global 100, and earning recognition as an ITSM Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for five years running. Our solutions offer speed, agility, and efficiency to tackle business challenges in the areas of service management, automation, operations, and the mainframe.
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DSR is a supplier of project management, consultancy services and IT solutions that increase effectiveness of a company's operations in the production sector. The company combines in-depth knowledge of international companies with expert knowledge utilising IT tools that support manufacturing and distribution processes. DSR ensures optimization and integration of internal processes which is necessary for companies to grow rapidly. The rapid growth is possible thanks, to specialized services an...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Scala Hosting is trusted by 50 000 customers from 120 countries and hosting 700 000+ websites. The company has local presence in the United States and Europe and runs an internal R&D department which focuses on changing the status quo in the web hosting industry. Imagine every website owner running their online business on a fully managed cloud VPS platform at an affordable price that's very close to the price of shared hosting. The efforts of the R&D department in the last 3 years made that pos...